ITV could strike a deal with BT to become the first terrestrial channel to show live Premier League football, it emerged last night, with the broadcaster in talks about an alliance that would see it screen some of BT’s matches from next year.
Negotiations are at an early stage, say sources close to discussions, but BT is keen to extend its football offering beyond its own BT Vision TV network. The company is looking at a number of options, including a wholesale deal that may see its channels shown on other pay TV providers such as Virgin Media.
However, a deal with ITV would be the most significant, as the partnership would showcase BT to the 13m homes without a pay TV subscription. ITV – which already shows Champions League, FA Cup, and international games – has also been sounded out about producing BT’s football channel when it launches for the 2013-14 season.
It is unclear how many and which matches BT would be willing to allow another broadcaster to show, having spent £738m on the rights for 114 matches over the next three seasons. The firm’s deal poses a serious challenge to Sky’s grip on live sport, but is seen by many as a risky move from BT.
ITV and BT declined to comment.